The Battle of Kursk
Contributor: Andrew Nguyen
Review Date: 26 Sep 2009
Though history often has stated that the Battle of Stalingrad was the decisive battle of the Eastern Front of World War II, the Battle of Kursk, which occurred in July 1943, also falls under the category of the most decisive battle on the Eastern Front as well. It was there that the Red Army broke the last German grand offensive in the East and soon began its titanic two-year march to the gates of Berlin. Kursk was also one of the largest and most violent tank battles of the war.
As with all famous battles, Kursk has its share of myths and misconceptions to which both countries had contributed to for their own personal reasons. One of the most legendary myths concerned the battle of Prokhorovka. While it was indeed a gigantic tank battle within the scope of Kursk, there have been mistakes in the description of the progression of the battle. A large part of these misconceptions came from the fact that most of the information used for research in earlier books came from German sources or heavily edited Soviet sources.
Written by authors David M. Glantz & Jonathan M. House, The Battle of Kursk is a exceptionally comprehensive telling of the Battle of Kursk. The contents of the book consist of four main parts along with appendixes and indexes. After a prologue section in which Hitler and his Generals consider another delay while either pushing on or canceling the operation altogether, the main story gets underway. Each part is one large chapter, which describes the phase of the campaign and it starts from the planning stages of both sides to dealing with the battle of Kursk itself and eventually leading to the end of the story with the Soviet Counteroffensives and the results of the battle to both sides. The authors conclude the summing up in the fact that after Kursk, Germany would never again launch a true major offensive in the east and that the Red Army had broken the Wehrmachtís offensive power in the strategic, operational and tactical sense.
This is a large and comprehensive book whose details can overwhelm the reader at times but it is an impressive read all the same. In addition, it sheds much new light on the battle and dispels old myths to which the author claim was because mostly German sources helped form the shape of the battle in the minds of readers. This is particularly true in the case of the tank battle of Prokhorovka. While it was a titanic tank battle in every sense of the word, the actual details of the battle were different from that of the legend and myth that surrounded the battle with amongst them being that while the tank battle was decisive, other earlier phases of the battle also played their own important part in the German defeat. Furthermore, Glantz and House provide information to discredit the notions that Operation Citadel should have taken place earlier or that the Germans could have conducted an effective mobile defense in response to any new Soviet Offensive.
This is an excellent book and it should be part of the book collection of a reader interested in the Eastern Front of World War II and the launching point for the Soviet Unionís ultimate triumph over Nazi Germany.
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